I can recall a moment in which one of my friends joked that she made CNN her browser homepage after learning about the Chilean mining accident weeks after the story had become front page news. While my friend’s anecdote was comical, it also pointed to a larger issue and prompted me to wonder, do Bates students make a good enough effort to keep up with current world events?
It has been said many times: Bates College is kind of like a bubble, a designation that our school has received for multiple reasons. For one, the campus is small in geographic size and therefore can feel physically confining. It is also possible, and even likely, for a Bates student to complete his or her daily activities without even having to step outside the boundaries of the small campus. Even those who live “off campus” essentially still live on campus, as the majority of off campus housing is positioned around the campus’ immediate perimeter.
The “bubble” phenomenon, however, is about more than just the size of the Bates campus. Bates has also been regarded as a kind of solitary entity due to the fact that the day to day existence at Bates can feel alienating from the outside world.
At Bates, as is the case at other small college campuses, students step foot in the same buildings and see the same faces every day. In a more unique circumstance than the majority of American colleges and universities, Batesies even eat meals in one large room with the rest of the student body. Such facets of a Bates student’s life can all contribute to an overall sense that we are somewhat disconnected from what is occurring outside of our immediate environment.
In terms of keeping up with current events, the problematic nature of the Bates bubble lies in the fact that it can threaten our knowledge of and appreciation for things that are happening outside of Bates. On a smaller scale, Bates students have been criticized for failing to learn about the people and history of the Lewiston/ Auburn area. On a larger scale, however, some students fail to keep up with important events taking place all over the world.
Certain academic disciplines lend themselves to more frequent discussions of current events within the classroom. A professor in the Politics department, for example, is more apt to incorporate current events into his or her course material than a professor in Chemistry. But does this mean that only students who take courses in disciplines such as Politics or Economics are awarded the opportunity to learn about current events?
The truth is that, despite whether or not Bates students live with a “bubble,” it is our responsibility as conscious individuals to remain in the know with world events.
I brought this concern up in conversation with a fellow student, and she asserted that she simply doesn’t have time to fit news stories into her routine academic demands.Many students will attest to the reality that Bates students conduct busy lives. Between demanding academic courses, choosing from a diverse array of extra curricular options, and leaving time to socialize with friends, the average Bates student manages various tasks and has little time left for personal pursuits.
The busy schedule of many Bates students does not offer an excuse for failing to care about current events, however. Keeping up with current events can be seen as an aid to things that occur in the classroom, as global issues serve to provide relevant context to all academic areas.
News stories are now more available to us than they have ever been before. We can receive news stories on our televisions, computers, phones, and tablets. And if those options don’t work, don’t forget that newspapers still publish in print! The New York Times and The Boston Globe are available for free every morning outside of Commons.
I do not mean to suggest that Bates students are too wrapped up in ourselves and our school work to appreciate that there is a greater world of issues occurring outside of our campus borders. Rather, I believe it is easy and all too common to become absorbed in individual responsibilities and overlook the important act of regularly checking the news.
It is easier to read a newspaper when something momentous is taking place, like a major election or a security scandal, but these kinds of events don’t claim the headlines every day. Rather, it should be our goal, if not our responsibility, to pick up a newspaper in passing, scroll through a news app on our phones, or bring up current events while conversing with friends.
There is always time to check the headlines. If need be, steal an idea from my friend and make CNN your homepage.